Comedian Sagren Moodley who goes by the stage name Karou Charou campaigning for the ANC ahead of the 2016 local government elections alongside Sihle Zikalala at the Rydalvale Grounds in Phoenix.
Comedian Sagren Moodley who goes by the stage name Karou Charou campaigning for the ANC ahead of the 2016 local government elections alongside Sihle Zikalala at the Rydalvale Grounds in Phoenix.

Anti-apartheid stalwarts say ’Park by the Pozie’ initiative is ’racist and dangerous’

By Janine Moodley Time of article published Dec 11, 2020

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Durban - Anti-apartheid stalwarts and prominent members of the Indian community in South Africa have spoken out against an initiative they have dubbed racist, destructive, divisive and dangerous.

The initiative, “Park by the Pozie” is being organised by the National Indian Congress of South Africa. Little is known about the organisation, including the office bearers and source of funding.

The only person to be publicly associated with the organisation is Karou Charou, the alter ego of entertainer Sagren Madhevan Moodley.

He is formerly from Chatsworth but now lives in Johannesburg. Moodley has called Indian South Africans in Durban to stay home this Saturday to show other South Africans how economically powerful Indian South Africans are.

This week, former members of the Natal Indian Congress (which was formed by Mahatma Gandhi to fight discrimination against Indians in KZN) said in a statement the initiative by Moodley created divisions.

It was signed by; Alf Karrim, Charm Govender, Derek Naidoo, Devan Pillay, Dilly Naidoo, Ela Gandhi, Eunice David, Jerry Coovadia, Kiru Naidoo, Logie Naidoo, Maggie Govender, Muni Kooblal, Pravin Gordhan, Poonie Pather, Ravi Pillay, Sham Maharaj, Spider Juggernath, Sunny Singh, Swaminathan Gounden, Judge Thumba Pillay, Yashica Padia, Yousuf Vawda, Yunus Carrim and Yusuf Bhamjee.

The statement read: "This is an urgent public alert to the Durban community to beware of a dangerous, racist social media campaign to set the Indian community apart from, and possibly against, the broader South African society.

"It irresponsibly incites people to damage the economy by advocating a boycott, during December, of businesses based on race.

“The author/s of the ‘Karou Charou’ and ‘National Indian Congress of South Africa’ appear to be nameless, faceless opportunists with no record of service or legitimacy in the community.

"They are shamelessly trying to steal the name and proud record of service of the Natal Indian Congress, founded in 1894 by Mahatma Gandhi, and others. Despite being formed initially to protect Indian interests, the NIC transformed into a non-racial organisation aligned with the majority of the oppressed people of South Africa.

"At the height of the Passive Resistance and Defiance Campaigns against apartheid in the 1940s and 1950s, the NIC, Transvaal Indian Congress and the ANC joined forces under the Dadoo-Naicker-Xuma leadership (the Doctors’ Pact) to unite all communities in the fight against apartheid.

"Inspired by the Freedom Charter, this continued into the 1980s and 1990s with the formation of the non-racial United Democratic Front and Mass Democratic Movement, which finally brought the apartheid regime to its knees and paved the way for a democratic South Africa.

“These are hard-won freedoms for all the people of this country, which we must continue to defend, not on the narrow basis of race or ethnicity, but as democrats.

"For the record, the ANC did not disband the NIC as the social media suggests – another one of the bits of disinformation peddled by the opportunists.

"Democratic South Africa is not without its problems. Mass unemployment, increasing poverty, poor or non-existent services, widespread hunger and rampant corruption have made life unbearable for a large majority of our people.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has only worsened this. We have to fight all these ills in our society, but as united citizens. Retreating into racially-based groups and resorting to race-based attacks sinks to the level of the EFF and white right-wing groups.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has only worsened this. We have to fight all these ills in our society, but as united citizens. Retreating into racially-based groups and resorting to race-based attacks sinks to the level of the EFF and white right-wing groups.

"We accordingly condemn the behaviour of ‘Karou Charou’ and ‘NICSA’ and call on the community not to be misled by their dangerous antics, but remain steadfast in the defence of our hard-won non-racial democratic gains."

Another group issued a statement saying the boycott was “Not in our name”. They included Omar Badsha, a historian, Professor Brij Maharaj, an academic, Dr AV Mohamed, the chairperson of the Grey Street Mosque and Solly Suleman, president of the Minara Chamber of Commerce.

According to their statement: "We, the undersigned, distance ourselves from a destructive social media campaign asking 'Durban Charous' to sabotage our struggling economy and create racial division within our South African nation."

They said the campaign was “irresponsible”, more especially when the world was struggling to cope with the economic fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Anything that reeks of incitement and hate speech must be isolated. Indian South Africans have a long and powerful history in the non-racial struggle for freedom and a proud track record of sacrifice and hard work in building our economy.

"Let us be reminded that as far back as 1947, our leaders in Doctors Monty Naicker, Yusuf Dadoo and AB Xuma signed a cooperation agreement for non-racial unity and together moving our country forward. African, Coloured and Indian people marched alongside freedom-loving whites in defying apartheid. We must now not allow anyone to divide us."

It said the peace, democracy and economic stability enjoyed today was from that hard work over the decades.

"The shadowy individuals behind the misguided campaign have no presence or legitimacy in our community. Our collective future is in working for a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. Let us work to unite our people and grow our economy. Let us rally to support those who still have jobs and the businesses struggling to cope in the Covid-19 environment."

Moodley was asked to comment but declined. Instead, he took to social media to defend the initiative.

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